Payoff never comes in ‘The Canyon’

Alan Solomon/Chicago Tribune/MCT

When newlyweds in movies insist on taking their honeymoon in
wild, isolated places, bad things always happen. But maybe Nick (Eion Bailey)
and Lori (Yvonne Strahovski) have never been to a multiplex because they do
exactly that in The Canyon, in which
their trek into a remote part of the Grand Canyon with an unlicensed guide
turns into a survival nightmare.

Handsomely shot by director Richard Harrah and
cinematographer Nelson Cragg in Arizona and Utah and featuring energetic
performances by Bailey and especially Strahovski, The Canyon is undermined by the expectation of a big payoff
that never comes.

Things start to go badly for our good-looking, plucky couple
when their crusty guide, Henry (Will Patton), is attacked and killed by two
rattlesnakes. Left on their own to try and hike back to civilization, city
folks Nick and Lori discover that they don’t need a guy with a chainsaw chasing
them. Nature is their ultimate villain: craggy cliffs, hungry animals, circling
vultures, oh my. Not to mention, there’s the whole ripped-from-the-headlines,
amputating-a-limb thing that is the film’s squeamish highlight.

Still, despite the best efforts of Bailey and Strahovski,
Harrah’s visual eye, and some well-trained wolves, it all comes across as
survival-film cliches. There’s not a lot of suspense as the couple and the
movie trudge tortuously to the conclusion, where the ultimate message is, guys,
next time opt for a time share in Manhattan.

The Canyon

2 stars (out of 5)

R (disturbing content, scene of amputation); 102 min.

Cary Darling reviews movies for McClatchy Newspapers.